CLIMATE change experts working in Oxford fear their jobs could be lost after funding was cut by the Government.

The UK Climate Impact Programme, set up in Oxford 13 years ago, currently receives £1m a year from the Department of the Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

The programme, part of the university’s Environmental Change Institute, has been told that there will be no more Government support from September.

But programme director Dr Chris West said he was fighting to continue the organisation’s work without Government money and was seeking alternative funding.

He said: “Obviously there’s a cloud of uncertainty hanging over us, and the subject is sensitive, because people’s jobs are at risk, but I think there’s room for us to continue alone.”

The programme examines how businesses, local government and Government departments should adapt to climate change and extreme weather conditions – such as the floods of July 2007 and the recent cold winter.

The programme employs 18 people at its South Parks Road offices, 14 of whom are funded by Defra, with the other four employed on other research projects.

Since 1997 Defra has regularly renewed its contract with UKCIP, but it has now decided to award the contract to the Environment Agency instead, with an extra £2m a year added to the budget.

Dr West added that regardless of contradictory views on the impact of climate change, extreme weather conditions, such as the snow that closed Heathrow Airport last December, already existed and had an economic impact – to which businesses and other organisations needed to react.

Examples of the kind of measures needed include increasing the size of down-pipes to cope with severe rainfall and adapting the design of care homes to ensure rest rooms do not have too much glass – which could result in residents becoming too hot.

Defra spokesman Paul Leat said: “We’re very grateful for the work UKCIP has done but the time has come now to deliver the programme through Environment Agency offices nationwide.”Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman added: “It’s vital to our social and economic prosperity that we are prepared for the risks of climate change, and ready to take advantage of the opportunities it might bring.”

Dr West said: “Assessing the impacts of climate change and thinking about how we must adapt has moved into the mainstream and I would like to think that UKCIP’s work has made a difference in this regard.”